The Athletics Show

There’s more to a podcast than meets the eye, as Athletics Weekly’s editor discovered this month

Posted on July 19, 2012 by
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Adam Gemili (Mark Shearman)

I always have sympathy when stadium announcers or TV and radio commentators get laughed at for making errors. It’s a thankless task because, unlike print journalists, they don’t have the luxury of proof-reading the words before they go out.

I was reminded how tricky their job just before the British Olympic Trials earlier this summer when I went on TalkSport to chat about Adam Gemili but realised just before my interview that I didn’t know how to pronounce his name. Was it ‘Jem-ee-lee’? Or did the name roll off the tongue a little quicker, similar to the name ‘Emily’? Was the first letter soft, as in the word ‘gem’? Or hard ‘g’ as in the word ‘game’?

Since his World Junior 100m gold and Olympic selection for London 2012, most people now know his name is pronounced ‘Jem-ee-lee’, but it took me a good half an hour late at night frantically quizzing some colleagues before I worked it out. The athlete himself even finally replied on Twitter to sort out the dilemma.

Problem is, writers don’t ever have to ‘say’ the names. We just need to spell them correctly. Also, I probably see less TV coverage than most as I’m usually at the bigger meetings.

So given this, I was more than a little apprehensive about getting involved in a new podcast earlier this month. From Ohuruogu to Idowu, Lemaitre to Ostapchuk, there would be a minefield of names to get my tongue around. I was sure any statistical clangers would be pounced upon too.

Yet The Athletics Show has been a big success. The first show went straight in at No.2 on the iTunes sports and recreation podcast chart, beaten only by ITV4’s excellent Tour de France coverage and ahead of lots of Olympic and football podcasts. And, as I write this, the second show has come out today and is busily winging its way around Twitter and Facebook.

The Athletics Show seems Britain’s only athletics magazine team up with the guys from Marathon Talk, the latter being a successfully established podcast about endurance running. Martin Yelling presents the show with yours truly and the weekly download lasts about 40 minutes and features a mix of news, discussion and short interviews about the world of track and field. Obviously at present there is a huge focus on the imminent Olympics, but the banter – which can be quite opinionated at times - is a bit like Athletics Weekly magazine, focusing on international performances but with a firm British twist.

So far, it’s been great fun to produce and there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. Being a podcast fan, I had little hesitation volunteering to join Martin on the show, too. For quite a few years I’ve been a keen listener of IM Talk, which is a podcast about triathlon produced by a couple of guys in New Zealand – and podcasts generally are ideal for listening to if you’re doing a gym session, an off-road run (away from traffic!) or a warm-up or interval session on an empty track.

With myself and Martin living about 200 miles away from each other, there are a few logistics to overcome, but by using Skype and other technology it’s not proved too much of a hurdle. Also, while a member of the written press like myself is not allowed to broadcast shows like this – or do interviews – from inside the Olympic Park, I will be in the Olympic Stadium for all the track and field sessions from the Games, so when I record the shows later on, probably back in my hotel room, I’ll be able to offer a unique inside view on some of the hottest track and field performances of the Games.

If you haven’t had chance to check it out yet, then you can do it in a variety of ways. You can download to an iPod or MP3 player or simply download it direct on your PC.

All feedback is appreciated as we strive to improve the show. Please, just promise not to laugh if I pronounce any names wrong!

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